What should I consider before buying a Royal Python?

What should I consider before buying a Royal Python?

From Length Lifespan Groups
Western and Central Africa 5 feet (on average) 20 to 25 years Best kept solitary

Royal Pythons, referred to as Ball Pythons outside of the UK, are an excellent starter species for someone who is new to keeping reptiles.

Their needs are very basic, they do not grow to a particularly large size and they are usually very placid (although it is important to remember that any animal will defend itself if provoked). This makes them ideal for beginners.
 

Have you got everything prepared?

  • Vivarium
  • Heat and Light Source
  • Bulb Holder and Guard
  • Food and Water Bowls
  • Hide
  • Thermometer, Thermostat and Hygrometer
  • Spray Bottle/Humidifier
  • Feeding Tongs
  • Snake Hook (optional)
  • Food (make sure you have freezer space!)
  • Vivarium Lock
  • Substrate
 

Diet

Royal Pythons are obligate carnivores which means they will only eat meat. The size of this type of snake means they can be fed a variety of mice and small rats. Rats and mice are bought frozen, and they should be completely thawed out before feeding to the snake or you could risk dangerously lowering their body temperature. The size of the prey offered should correspond to the size of the prey itself – the prey should never be bigger than the widest part of the snake’s body.

There are two methods in which food can be presented to a snake. These are strike feeding and bowl feeding.

Strike feeding involves dangling the animal in front of the snake using feeding tongs and waiting for the snake to strike the prey and coil around it. Never offer food by holding it in your fingers! This can cause the snake to accidentally strike your fingers when aiming for the prey, or it could simply begin to associate your hands with food, which would make handling dangerous.

Bowl feeding involves laying the prey on a shallow bowl or rock and allowing the snake to find the food for itself. This may not be as effective, as in the wild the snake would expect to chase its prey, and may not be as likely to take an interest if it already appears dead (i.e. not moving).

Whichever method you choose, never ever use live animals.

These snakes can go a few weeks without eating, but if you are struggling to get your Royal Python to feed, try cutting the prey so they will smell the blood more strongly.

 

Enclosure

Royal Pythons are a terrestrial species, meaning they spend most of their time on the ground. They will, however, climb low branches you may choose to include in your vivarium. Due to their size, an enclosure for an adult should be at least 3ft wide, 2ft deep, and 1.5ft high. The vivarium should allow for a fair amount of substrate, which the python will enjoy burrowing in. It is also vital to check the security of the vivarium as snakes are excellent escape artists. Make sure the vivarium is securely locked and be aware of any damaged areas through which the snake could escape. The enclosure should be spot cleaned daily, with a full clean out once a month.
 

 

Heating and Lighting

Royal Pythons require a basking spot temperature of around 35°C with an ambient temperature of around 30°C. The cooler side of the vivarium should be around 25°C. At night, you should make sure that the temperature does not drop below 22°C. UV lighting is not essential for royal pythons, although there can be benefits such as brighter colouration if a low level “natural light” is used. This can come from their heat bulb. Their overall photo period should be twelve hours of light and twelve hours of darkness per day.
A hiding area should be included at the cooler end of the vivarium. Hiding areas are important as they allow the snake a place to retreat into a place where they feel secure. This is a natural behaviour that they instinctually follow even in captivity, because in the wild this would help them to avoid being eaten.
 


 
 

Substrate

Royal Pythons require a substrate which they can burrow in, and is also good at retaining moisture. Coco fibre is a suitable type to use, and mixing it with bark chips can help to maintain humidity levels. This will also help to prevent respiratory issues caused by finer dust particles. The substrate should be 2 – 3 inches deep.
 
 


 
 

Water and Humidity

The humidity levels in a royal python’s vivarium should usually be around 60%, but should never drop below 50%. The humidity level can be topped up by spraying with a water bottle or humidifier. You should aim to be misting the vivarium twice daily, which can be done manually or through a fogger system. A water source should always be available, in a bowl large enough for the snake to bathe in. This should be replenished regularly to maintain hygiene.
 
 


 
 

Behaviours to watch out for

  • As they get ready to shed their skin, the snake’s eyes will briefly go cloudy. They will return to normal during or after the shed.
  • Snakes can regurgitate their food if they feel stressed or threatened. It is best not to handle a snake for at least two days after feeding.
  • They may become a bit defensive when preparing to shed, so it may be best to avoid handling during this period.
  • Snakes will become much more aggressive when they sense food, so it is best to keep your distance when there is food nearby!
  • Snakes should shed their skin all in one go. Patchy skin is a sign of a bad shed. To combat this, make sure the humidity is optimal and provide a rough surface such as a rock or branch to help them shed.
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    If this handy guide has piqued your interest in purchasing a Royal Python, everything you may need can be found in-store or on our website. If you have any questions feel free to give us a call on 01482 585315 or drop us an email to enquiry@peejaypets.co.uk.